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Mariticide (from Latin maritus "married" + -cide, from caedere "to cut, to kill") literally means the murder of one's married partner, but has become most associated with the murder of a husband by his wife, as the reverse is given the name uxoricide.

In England the punishment until 1790 was to be strangled and burnt at the stake.[1]

Notable instances


File:Anne Williams burned at the stake.JPG

Anne Williams burned at the stake for mariticide in Gloucester, 1753.[1]

  • Laodice I allegedly poisoned her husband Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucid dynasty around 246 BC.
  • The Roman emperor Claudius was poisoned at the instigation of his wife Agrippina the Younger to ensure the succession of her son Nero
  • Marie-Josephte Corriveau, 1763, New France
  • The "Black Widows of Liverpool", Catherine Flannigan (1829–1884) and Margaret Higgins (1843–1884) were Scottish sisters who were hanged at Kirkdale Gaol in Liverpool, for the murder of Thomas Higgins, Margaret's husband.
  • Florence Maybrick (1862–1941) spent fourteen years in prison in England after being convicted of murdering her considerably older English husband, James Maybrick, in 1889.
  • Edith Thompson and Frederick Bywaters were executed in 1923 for the murder of Thompson’s husband Percy.
  • Heather Osland drugged and had her son kill her husband in 1991, creating a test case for the 'battered woman syndrome' defense in Australia.[2]
  • Katherine Knight murdered her de facto husband by stabbing him, then skinned him and attempted to feed pieces of his body to his children.[3] She was sentenced to life in prison without parole: her appeal against this sentence as too harsh was rejected.[4]
  • In 1991, Pamela Smart had her husband murdered by a student of hers. Though the student committed the murder, the courts ruled that Smart had been guilty of mariticide due to her influence on the young man and her convincing manner to get him to carry out the act.
  • In 1999, entertainer Phil Hartman was killed by his wife Brynn Hartman, who then killed herself.


See also

  • Uxoricide, the practice of killing one's wife


  1. 1.0 1.1 Samuel Walter Burgess, Historical illustrations of the origin and progress of the passions, and their influence on the conduct of mankind, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, 1825, pp.134-135
  2. Stateline Victoria
  3. HTML Document: Regina v Knight [2001] NSWSC 1011 revised - 29 January 2002
  4. Knight loses appeal for skinning partner - Breaking News - National - Breaking News
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